Converting to Catholicism
I am a Catholic but I wasn’t always. I have always been Christian and attended church on a regular basis as a kid. Since I wasn’t going with my family, when I got to high school I favoured sleeping in to worship. And, since my dad and brother worshiped from home (meaning, they would watch the evangelists on TV and laugh), it lost its appeal.
When I met Mister, his family attended church and I would go with them on occasion. Yes, I was a part-time Christmas and Easter Catholic. We would be compelled to go other times as well and I always enjoyed the lessons taught from that alter. I would want to have a discussion about the homily at our coffee after mass. Mister was unaccustomed to paying attention at this particular time during the mass as he had nothing he ‘had to do.’ I think that is a hangover from going to a Catholic school. In order to get any peace you had to zone out and the homily seemed like a good enough spot. I chose to zone out during history.
In our church, the sermon was the best part. It was when the Minister would tell a funny story about his family and relate it to the bible or he would talk about something in the news and relate it to the bible. It humanized the experience of religion for me.
We chose not to send our children to a Catholic school because, this might sound trivial but, there were no sidewalks on the way to the school. We would have to walk down residential streets littered with other children, their caregivers, and cars. I had a fantasy that our kids might like to walk home for lunch on their own when they got big enough (like I did) and we wouldn’t be comfortable with them walking if our kids were at that school.
We, therefore, enrolled our children in after-school Catechism classes when they got to grade one. They really didn’t like going even though it seemed like Sunday School to me, which I loved as a kid. Regardless, as good Catholics do, they went through the motions because that was what was expected of them.
When both kids had completed their first communion I was sitting in the congregation one Sunday during the communion (because I wasn’t Catholic, I was expected not to take part) and felt very different from my family. They were all doing something together that I could not be part of. I decided to make an appointment to ask about conversion. What was said during that appointment surprised me and helped me make my decision. I met with the Deacon and the teacher of the RCIA class (adult catechism).
I believe that priests should be able to be married. Can I still be Catholic?
I believe that love is love regardless of sex. Can I still be Catholic?
I told them I disagreed with the Catholic church’s position on abortion and divorce. Can I still be Catholic? (This was before all the priest scandals or that would have been top of mind too and possibly would have stopped me from considering it all together.)
Sure. But we have two questions for you.
Do you believe in God?
Why do you want to convert to Catholicism?
I told him my story on how I wanted to belong to the same club my family did.
Then we’d love to have you at our Rite of Christian Initiation class and you can make your decision from there.
The classes were long but fun. The people were interesting and I was happy to be part of the process. There was no colouring like Sunday School, which the Deacon should have warned me about, but there was colourful conversation. The people in the room wanted to discuss the readings and homilies. At last!
The final confirmation ceremony was over Easter and long into the night but the Deacon invited our children to participate and it made their evening easier. Mister played a game with them that was the equivalent of punch buggy (if I remember correctly) without the violence or the bugs and more Jesus.
Now that our children are in high school, I have to admit, we have reverted to Christmas and Easter Catholics. The church’s appeal to the young is overshadowed by the scandals and rigidity of the church. I get it. I am encouraged by Pope Francis and his open-mindedness that we can once again be proud to be Catholic without having to address the inherent problems of the church.
But, I am happy that I was part of their club for this many years. I discovered that the Catholic church is more welcoming than I ever imagined and even a girl from the other side of the oak benches can feel at home. We may not be regulars now, but we are still Catholics practicing from home. One day, when we get back to every Sunday, we will be sitting in the front third and we will be listening intently so we can chat about it over coffee later.